At the 3rd UNEA Conference hosted in Kenya, whose theme was “towards a pollution free planet”, Environment Ministers signed a Declaration on sustainable use of natural resources and a pollution free planet which mainly includes a strong backing in efforts to increase PET Waste Management.
This led to the hailing of Kenya’s plastic carrier bag ban; a move that was clearly needed in the light of the amount of plastic waste that is already choking our water bodies and oceans.
With this, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) launched a PET sector group through a clean-up exercise of PET products at Uhuru Park Nairobi. The clean-up exercise is in line with the industry’s commitment to manage solid waste in the country as a global best-practice. The PET sector Group has partnered with the Government to kick off an advocacy and PET recycling initiative.
This was a win-win initiative between KAM and industry stakeholders that will ensure the industry works hand in hand with the government to ensure there is a sustainable solution for all parties. The sector group has adopted the successful PETCO South Africa model which runs an industry driven and financed environmental solution for post-consumer PET plastic. The model provides a solution for post-consumer plastic packaging which is critical in minimising its impact on the environment.
The Guest of Honour at the clean-up event, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources Prof. Judi Wakhungu stated, “With the ban of the manufacture, sale or use of carrier and flat plastic bags, we have seen the nation make great strides towards environmental conservation. I wish to commend the industry’s role in championing and executing environmental conservation strategies, your efforts and proactive nature cannot be gainsaid.”
She added that, “We are proud of this achievement which has inspired other countries to join us in our journey. We continue to consult with our regional and international stakeholders to ensure our efforts follow best practices.”
Due to its unrivalled functional properties and low costs, plastic is an integral and important part of the global economy and is used almost everywhere by everyone. Plastics are used across the global economy and serve as a key enabler for various sectors ranging from packaging, construction, transportation, healthcare and electronics. In Kenya, there is a total of 176 plastics manufacturing companies actively contributing to the GDP – in 2016, the plastics industry in Kenya generated a turnover of Sh100 billion and not only employed over 60,000 people.
KAM chairperson Flora Mutahi said, “We wish to thank the Ministry of Environment and its entities for walking with us in this journey, it has not been a walk in the park for the industry but the we have made great strides in tackling the issue of waste management. However, waste management cannot be dealt with in isolation, it is a global challenge, that requires all of us to create sustainable measures to deal with the menace.
She went on to add that, “The industry embraces the circular economy concept and is looking out for various ways to support the creation of an effective after-use plastics economy. Packaging is integral to the delivery of safe, high-quality consumer products. We recognise the need to create new circular systems that conserve resources, reduce pollution and promote efficiency. I encourage Kenyans to embrace proper disposal habits, particularly of PET bottles which are mainly littered along the roads, in water bodies and public areas. The clean-up exercise is one of the initiatives that we have put in place to mitigate the challenges that we face with waste management.”